Saturday, February 14, 2009

O Ka Malo

Take a strip of material about 10 inches wide and 10 to 12 feet long.Hold up one end in front with your left hand or chin. The distance it falls determines the length of the apron. Pass the rest of the material between your legs to the back and bring it up from back to front, from right to left around your waist (the other way if lefthanded). Wind it around your waist, and then, when you reach again to the back, double the material over and pass it under the cloth that comes between your legs, and pull on the loop thus formed until belt and pouch are sufficiently tight. There should be a little "tail" [iko sirat in Iban] in the back. The loincloth wound this way is quite secure and will not fall off even on a hard trek through the jungle.
Simple enough. But as dress is an important medium for individuals as well as whole peoples to express their individual styles, the loincloth too has many variants which we must consider. The Dayak loincloth is hardly a mere cache-sexe. No young man would have been caught dead in a skimpy ragged thing. (Although 140 years ago Spenser St. John found Murut men wearing just that, "chawats....absurdly small, not even answering the purpose for which they were intended."[26]) The standard Borneo loincloth goes at least twice around the waist, and usually more, and the apron and tail will hang at least two thirds of the way down the thighs. The Borneo fashion is to cover a broad band of waist, including the navel, although in the past, men often liked to squeeze the cloth of the pouch and apron very narrow.[27] While in the midst of some chore in which the apron and tail might be dirtied or caught, a man can tuck them into the waistband.[28]

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